Trump tries to distance himself from Project 2025 plan

Former President Donald Trump sought to distance himself on Friday from a conservative think tank’s plan for the next Republican presidency, as Democrats seek to turn the plan into a political vulnerability for Trump in the November election.

The Heritage Foundation’s plan, known as Project 2025, lays out a sweeping overhaul of the federal government if Trump wins a second term, including vastly more power for the executive branch. Many people involved in the effort are former Trump administration officials, and Trump publicly aligned himself with the think tank as president.

Despite this, Trump said on his social media platform Truth Social that he “knows nothing about Project 2025.”

“I have no idea who’s behind this,” he wrote Friday. “I don’t agree with some of the things they say and some of the things they say are just ridiculous and horrible. Whatever they do, I wish them luck, but I had nothing to do with it.”

Heritage Foundation Chairman Kevin Roberts stirred controversy three days ago when he claimed in a media appearance that the country was in the midst of a “second American revolution” that would be “bloodless if the left lets it be.”

“Project 2025 is the extreme policy and personnel handbook for Trump’s second term that is designed to terrify the American people,” Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa said in a statement about Trump’s attempt to distance himself from the plan. “The staff and leadership of Project 2025 routinely tout their connections to Trump’s team, and are the same people who are in charge of [Republican National Committee] policy platform and Trump’s debate preparation, campaign and inner circle.”

In a statement on X, Project 2025 stressed that it is independent of the Trump campaign.

“As we have said for more than two years, Project 2025 does not speak for any candidate or campaign,” the statement said, noting that the project represents more than 110 conservative groups that are planning for the next GOP president. “But it will ultimately be up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations he wants to implement.”

Trump’s campaign last year tried to downplay Project 2025 as “policy recommendations from external allies.” But Biden’s campaign and other Democrats have mounted an aggressive effort to hold Trump accountable for the plan.

Last month, House Democrats created a task force to oppose Project 2025. And on Friday, hours after Trump’s announcement about Project 2025, several speakers at a Biden rally in Wisconsin urged supporters to oppose the plan.

“When you get home, Google ‘Project 2025’ and tell everyone you know to do the same,” said Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D).

A central part of the plan is a massive shakeup of the federal workforce to make it more loyal to the president, a proposal that echoes Trump’s longstanding complaints about a “deep state” bureaucracy that he has accused of undermining his first-term agenda. Project 2025 touches on other politically sensitive issues, including a call for the Food and Drug Administration to “review and rescind the original approval” of the abortion pill mifepristone. Trump recently said he would not block access to mifepristone.

People involved in Project 2025 include Ben Carson, Trump’s former housing secretary; Peter Navarro, Trump’s White House trade adviser; and Russ Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget under Trump. Earlier this year, Trump and the Republican National Committee named Vought policy director for the RNC committee that drafts the party’s platform ahead of this month’s national convention in Milwaukee.

Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is a senior partner in one of the groups advising Project 2025, the Conservative Partnership Institute. And John McEntee, director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office under Trump, serves as a senior adviser to Project 2025.

As president, Trump spoke to the Heritage Foundation in 2017, praising the organization and asking for help pushing his proposed tax cuts through Congress.

Asked Friday about Trump’s ties to Project 2025, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in an email that the campaign “has said for months that outside groups like Project 2025 do not reflect campaign strategy or policies.” He pointed to a statement released last year by top Trump advisers that sought to quell speculation about plans for a second term.

“Let us be very specific here: Unless a message comes directly from President Trump or an authorized member of his campaign team, no aspect of future presidential staffing or policy announcements should be considered official,” the statement said.

Biden’s campaign also pointed out that a Trump campaign spokesperson, Karoline Leavitt, appeared in a September 2023 video promoting Project 2025’s training program for potential future political appointees. In the video, several former Trump administration employees identify themselves, with Leavitt noting that she was Trump’s assistant press secretary.

Asked about the video on Friday, Leavitt said in a statement that she appeared in the video “before I began working on the Trump campaign.” She previously worked for a pro-Trump super PAC in 2023. She added that Agenda47, Trump’s reelection campaign platform, is “the only official policy agenda of President Trump and our campaign.”

Biden’s campaign criticized the Heritage Foundation chairman’s comments about a “second American Revolution,” made just two days before the July 4 holiday.

“248 years ago tomorrow, America declared independence from a tyrannical king, and now Donald Trump and his allies want to make him one at our expense,” Biden campaign spokesman James Singer said in a statement Wednesday.

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